Aids/HIV infections in Uganda are rising by about 1.5% a year, bucking a trend that saw the country being touted as the model for HIV/Aids prevention and treatment back in the 1990s.
There is an ugly secret as to why the numbers are rising and will continue to rise as surely as night follows day:
The government of Uganda has totally ignored homosexuals, men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers in their HIV/Aids prevention and treatment campaigns.
First off, and for the benefit of many Ugandans who continue to display a worrying failure to understand the definitions:
Homosexuals are men/women who are only emotionally attracted to those of their gender. Men who have sex with men are … men who have sex with men, and they can do so even when they are not emotionally attracted to them, such as in prison where there is no alternative!
Then there are also men/women who are emotionally attracted to both women and men respectively. These are called bisexual.
MSM can be straight, gay or bisexual. What unites MSM in Uganda is that they generally indulge in gay sex in secret (down low) unless they have come out to their loved ones and friends which is almost unheard of.
The fact of the matter is that, mostly due to the stigma surrounding homosexual sex in Uganda and much of Africa, homosexual men are still sleeping with and/or marrying women in large numbers. Their homosexual feelings don’t go away, of course, so they keep up respectable married facades and then sleep with men whenever their gay johns hit them.
If you are walking down the aisle with your man he is not gay, yes? If your son is walking past you as he exits the church with his new bride and you are shedding tears of joy, you can breathe a sigh of relief because he is not gay, yes? If your son gives you a grandson, he is not gay, yes?
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Your boyfriend, husband, son, could very well be a man who has sex with men or a totally homosexual man who has found a way of compartmentalizing his gay feelings to please you, his relatives or fit into society.
“So, what is the problem if my son, husband, brother is gay and he has found a way of hiding it, up to and including having a family?” I hear you ask.
Because he is nonetheless still sleeping with men – in secret. Because he is doing so secretly, the chances are that he cannot keep one partner since he gets his gay kicks in whenever he can, wherever he can, with whoever he can. Even if he could settle with just one male partner, the infrequency of their rendezvous usually means that the partner will have sex with other men. After all, who is going to sit around waiting for his married lover to steal time off, perhaps once every month or quarter, to be with him?
Unofficial figures suggest that there are at least 500,000 MSM and lesbians in Uganda. Let’s assume that only 250,000 of them are male (should be higher but never mind). Let us also assume that just 50,000 of the 250,000 are sleeping with men and women. Now imagine if the 50,000 have two female sexual partners; a wife and girlfriend on the side. If they were to catch HIV from a male or female partner, try to gauge the multiplication effect this might have on the men and women they are sleeping with, and the men and women the partners are in turn sleeping with. How does 100,000 new infections from just that cohort sound?
That’s why it boggles the mind that Uganda’s Ministry of Health is still showing no interest at all in making the spread of HIV/Aids in the gay community the priority it should be. How can an entire cadre of sensible, educated, knowledgeable professionals really hide their heads in the sand in the face of such a glaring gap in their HIV/Aids prevention and treatment program?
How come the government is ignoring the damning research its own people have come up with?
Uganda’s Minister of Health, Christine Ondoa, surely has a lot of questions to answer.
- Ugandan HIV campaign targets “cheaters” (gantdaily.com)
- HIV/Aids is already killing LGBTI Ugandans! (sebaspace.wordpress.com)
- Uganda’s ‘anti-homosexuality bill’ would be disastrous for HIV response (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- HIV-positive activist to Uganda: Stop impeding AIDS battle (76crimes.com)